Draconian budget cuts proposed by Zinke and Trump come along with proposals to reduce or eliminate public lands, sell off parks
Today, in front of the House Appropriations Committee, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke advocated for draconian budget cuts that would undermine our national parks, public lands, and local access funds. The budget proposal comes at the same time Secretary Zinke has proposed reducing or eliminating national monuments like Bears Ears and privatizing our national park campgrounds.
“Teddy Roosevelt must be rolling over in his grave with these proposals to underfund and sell off our national parks,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project. “Adequate funding for maintaining our public lands is essential to the safety and economic security of Western states. This budget is a short-sighted, irresponsible proposal that would do real harm to our communities.”
As we’ve reported about the Trump/Zinke budget proposal:
It fails to work with local communities, giving them less, not more access.
- Secretary Zinke already halted the distribution of state wildlife agency grants, collected through excise taxes on hunters, anglers and boaters.
- In this budget proposal, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports many local parks, waters, public lands, and hunting and angling access acquisitions, is reduced by 80 percent from current spending levels or about $54 million.
It slashes funding for maintenance and repair.
- The proposed budget would cut another $30 million from the National Park Service’s deferred maintenance budget, putting the estimated backlog at nearly $12.8 billion. These cuts come at a time when our national parks are seeing record attendance, including both of Zinke’s home state parks, Glacier and Yellowstone.
It cuts essential staff, putting an even bigger burden on remaining rangers and field managers.
- The budget would cut staff by 6 percent, ensuring that park rangers, field managers, and critical Interior employees won’t have the right tools or resources, and will lack the flexibility to make the right decisions. As pointed out by the National Parks Conservation Association, our national parks will face a double whammy due to the seasonal or part-time nature of park employees. A cut of 6 percent could mean an actual reduction of up to 12 percent of park employees – increasing delays for visitors and limiting services.